December Auto Sales in Europe Fell 16% image

In December 2012 auto sales in Europe saw the biggest decline over the past two years.

Last month new car registrations dropped 16% to 838,428 units from 997,842 units in December 2011, according to ACEA. Fill-year sales fell 7.8% to 12.5 million units, amid the worst slump in the EU seen over the past 19 years.

Since July automakers have announced plants shutdowns and 30,000 job cuts in Europe, with PSA Peugeot Citroen planning to reduce its workforce in France by 17% in the next four years. Last year Fiat was surpassed in European sales by BMW, which is the world’s biggest automaker of luxury vehicles.

“The concern is that German, Spanish and U.K. consumer confidence is slipping away,” Michael Tyndall, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said by phone. “Before we get too excited about stabilization in demand, we need to see consumers in those key markets to start to feel a bit happier.”

According to ACEA, the December drop was the biggest since October 2010, when demand was affected by the government’s incentive to trade in older vehicles expired, and 2012 represented the fifth consecutive year of falling registrations. In December, Ford’s sales dropped 27%, GM’s 27%, Renault’s 19% and Fiat’s 18%, while BMW saw an increase of 0.6%.